The Dallas Cowboys may still be “America’s Team”, but the results just have not been there. Dallas has just one playoff win since 1996, and Jerry Jones seems content with Jason Garrett as his coach and Tony Romo as his quarterback.
Here are the five biggest questions the Dallas Cowboys face as training camp begins.
5. Can DeMarco Murray finally play a full season?
The Cowboys have a true star in the making at running back. DeMarco Murray has all the talent in the world, and last season, things finally started to come together for the 4-year pro out of Oklahoma. Murray ran for a career high 1,121 yards, scored a career high 9 touchdowns, and played in a career high 14 games. It is crucial that Murray finally play a full season for Big D. It would take an immense amount of pressure off of Tony Romo’s shoulders, and the Cowboys don’t have the best running back depth. If Murray gets hurt, Romo will have to take matters into his own hands, and as he’s shown throughout his career that a great mistake is bound to happen.
4. Will former 6th overall pick Morris Claiborne make a meaningful impact in the secondary?
If the Cowboys had some sort of pass defense in 2013, we could be talking about this team in a whole different light. Last season, Dallas gave up an average of 286.8 pass yards per game, the 3rd worst mark in the league. A game that stands out in particular was Dallas’s week 5 game against the Broncos. Tony Romo played arguably the best game of his life throwing for 506 yards, but the Cowboys defense could not stop Peyton Manning if its life depended on it and Dallas lost a shootout 51-48. One player that has not come close to living up to expectations is Morris Claiborne. The 2012 6th overall pick in the draft, the Cowboys were counting on Claiborne to be a shutdown corner in Bid D’s defense. Instead, he was passed by on the depth chart last season by Orlando Scandrick and got hurt shortly thereafter. Coming into training camp, there’s been talks about Dallas trading Claiborne, and if he doesn’t show he can be a productive player in camp, his time with the Cowboys could come to an end.
3. Can Terrance Williams be a legitimate number 2 receiver?
With Miles Austin gone, the Cowboys will be relying heavily on Terrance Williams, the 2nd-year receiver out of Baylor to take advantage of all the attention Dez Bryant and Jason Witten attract. Last season, he caught 44 passes for 736 yards and 5 touchdowns. Williams’ season was highlighted by a 151 yard performance in week 5 against the Broncos. It was his only 100-plus yard receiving game of the season. If Williams can’t fill the void left by Miles Austin and take some of the pressure off Bryant and Witten, Tony Romo’s ability to beat teams through the air will become that much harder.
2. Who’s going to play middle linebacker?
As much bad luck Tony Romo has, the Cowboys may have another player who has just as bad, if not worse luck. He’s missed a combined total of 15 games over the last 2-years, and on May 27th during OTA’s, tore his ACL. He will miss the entire 2014 season. Lee being out leaves a major hole in the middle of the Cowboys, and leaves them without its top defensive player. Now, Dallas has no idea who’s going to play middle linebacker, and that’s a crucial problem. The team brought in Rolando McClain who just came out of retirement at the age of 25. The competition is going to be between McClain, and 2014 4th round pick Anthony Hitchens. No matter who comes out on top, those are 2 very underwhelming names and the Cowboys defense will once again have severe problems this season.
1. Make or break year for Jason Garrett and Tony Romo?
This once proud franchise continues to go through an extended stretch of mediocrity. Dallas has just one playoff win in the last 18 years, and patience has to be running thin for Jerry Jones. Jason Garrett has yet to make the post-season, and has come oh so close. For the last 3 years, the Cowboys have entered the seasons final day in win and you get in mode. Each time, they lost in heartbreaking fashion. Many thought Garrett would have been fired years ago, but so far, Jerry has stuck with his guy. The big question is can Jerry handle another losing season with Garrett at the helm?